Leader Block Wine Co. and Eatery

The past is ever present at Ferndale’s Leader Block Wine Co. and Eatery. The restaurant is housed in the oldest building in Ferndale, says co-owner Robert Pinkley, and is situated on Main Street. It is rumored to once have hosted the sins of the town as a speakeasy during Prohibition. The story goes that the barbershop and drugstore on the street level of the building served as a front for the basement speakeasy and second floor brothel. While the illegal past of the building was never officially recorded, owners Pinkley, Brett Wiltse and director of operations Amberleigh Brownson have kept the vibrant story of the space alive with a touch of modern class and Italian flavor.

The restaurant was first opened as a wine bar with small meat and cheese plates in June 2017 before transitioning to a full restaurant in the fall of 2018. Plans for the Leader Block were always big, Pinkley says. The expansive wine list was created through wine tastings, says Brownson, a professionally trained sommelier and wine judge. “[The list] consists of classic expressions of flavors from all over the world with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest and Italian wine,” she says. The restaurant stays true to its roots as a wine bar with wine dinners, tastings, and educational classes available on a monthly basis. The trio plans to release a three-tiered wine club in 2019 that will feature opportunities for discounts, classes, dinners, private tastings and cellar storage, depending on club level.

The Leader Block pairs their extensive wine list with an Italian from-scratch menu that emphasizes flavors of the region, Pinkley says. To begin, start with a formaggi e salumi plate which features a selection of international meats and cheese, fruit, nuts and mustard for $18. For dinner try the salmone al forno for a classic Italian dish with a Pacific Northwest twist ($20). The fresh Pacific Northwest salmon is served with pesto, herbs and roasted fingerling potatoes. The Leader Block’s upscale menu make it a perfect spot for a date or special occasion while the friendly Ferndale atmosphere and kids menu keeps it appropriate family dinner too. “We are very proud of Ferndale’s past, present, and future,” Pinkley says.

The Leader Block is also available for private events and special occasions and features local music weekly. Every Wednesday saxophone player Roy Knaak fills the restaurant with his jazzy creations. Pinkley says the three owners are forward-facing with goals to bring the Leader Block brand to new locations throughout western Washington in the years to come.

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2026 Main St., Ferndale
360.306.8998 | leaderblock.com

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"'[The list] consists of classic expressions of flavors from all over the world with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest and Italian wine.'"